Jan 29 2010

Sympathy for the Hipster

So, I recently stumbled across the Unhappy Hipsters blog, which for the most part I think is great: it takes images from Dwell magazine and gives them captions that turns the trendy design-and-lifestyle layouts into evocative vignettes, little short-short stories about alienation and modernity. I tend to like blogs that do this, take an image and build a story around it: I love, for instance, the “Secret Life of Dresses” series on A Dress A Day. And I don’t, personally, much like modern architecture or design—to me all those shiny, graywashed, hard-edged surfaces seem antiseptic and even anti-human, although I understand that some people find them soothing and restful, or alternatively “interesting” and “challenging”—so I’m fairly sympathetic to a blog that takes a snarky look at that aesthetic.

But having recommended Unhappy Hipsters, I want to also talk about that word “hipster,” which has recently exploded in usage. For example see latfh.com, which is mostly about mocking kids who are having fun with their clothes. In fact a large part of the the “hipster” sneer seems to be a cut at people who take too much interest and enjoyment in a certain subject. Somebody on the New York Times comment section, for instance, called me a “fucking hipster” when I said I liked dark chocolate.

So a hipster is somebody who just likes trendy things, right, except where “trendy” is defined relating not to mass culture but to the specific trends of a young urban demographic. But here’s the thing—only people in that demographic would recognize the trends. Only somebody who’s familiar with the bands, the food, the festivals, the fashion, would have the capacity to recognize and to object to certain preferences on the grounds that they are overdone or too popular. And only somebody who actually worries about whether or not their own tastes are suitably idiosyncratic would even think to insult somebody else on that basis.

Therefore, the people who devised use of the word “hipster” as an insult (in its current popular usage) are clearly OTHER HIPSTERS. Nobody else knows or cares enough about the subcultures in question to police authenticity in this way. Nobody else gives a shit about what’s really cool and what’s overplayed and poser-y. And in the end, it comes down to making fun of people for what they enjoy, which is petty and mean.

So I guess this is an elaborate “no YOU are” to that dude in the nytimes.com comment section? And also, I like Unhappy Hipsters for the stories it creates, but I think the title of the blog probably says a lot more about the people who created it than it does about people who happen to like Dwell magazine.

Jan 27 2010

Live-Blogging the State of the Union Address

5:56 pm:

Sam isn’t home yet, but Robin is sitting on my lap to watch the State of the Union speech webcast from the New York Times. He seemed very interested when I caught a glimpse of the First Lady in the crowd and gasped, “oooh! Is she wearing purple?”

“Ooo!” Robin said.

Then the Congress whoever-he-is-guy announced the arrival of the President’s Cabinet. “Is the hot one, Peter Orzag, there?” I wondered aloud. “Not that we care. He’s a bit of a dog.”

“Woof woof!” said Robin.

Best. Political commentator. Ever!

(Slithery Lizard, by contrast, has gone to sleep. Her commentary is perhaps the most trenchant.)

6:25: I find myself persistently distracted by Joe Biden, over the President’s right shoulder. How does he decide when to nod gravely, when to purse his lips, when to cast his eyes skyward? It must be pretty hard to know you’re on national TV and yet not be able to do anything but vary your facial expression by minute degrees.

Nancy Pelosi, of course, doesn’t have that problem, her face having been frozen into that of an Egyptian death-mask decades ago. And I say this as a person who likes Nancy Pelosi.

6:28: President Obama said “railroads,” more than once! Even so, Robin is bored and wants kiwis.

6:35: Robin is crying (I guess he didn’t want kiwis after all?) but I’m pretty happy with the President’s insistence on pointing out that this broken country is one he inherited. Yet he’s following this with boilerplate jingoism. Yes? Are you going to keep talking about how much Bush sucked or are you going to finally do something about it, Mr. President? Talk about health care, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. MY TODDLER DEMANDS IT.

6:37: My god, they just booed him for suggesting that climate change exists. Listen, I know there’s maaaayyyybe some slight room for arguing that climate change is or is not man-caused. But that it exists? Only utter morons—and apparently Republican Congresscritters—are willing to stake out that position. I can’t frickin’ believe that our nation has come to this.

6:49: The pizza came (yyyeaaahhh, I’ve already broken the meal plan I drew up just a few hours ago), and the elevator is still broken, so we had to walk down and get it. Apparently Obama is talking about health care now? And again he’s underlining that it’s really Bush’s fault. That’s all very well, but you still have to pass health care reform, you know that right?

I dunno, maybe I missed it because I was stuffing my mouth with pizza, but I don’t get that he knows it.

6:54: Sam is home now and adding his own translation. President Obama: the deficit was blah blah blah when I took office. Sam: “‘When I took office’ means ‘when Jackass left’.” President Obama: bipartisan commission on deficit shot down by Congress, therefore I’ll do it by executive order. Sam: “I can do this committee thing that nobody likes by executive order, but ask me about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and I’m suddenly powerless.”

7:03: Invoking the Republicans’ conscience. Good luck with that.

7:06: Al-Qaeda spiders? Dear God no!

7:07: Complete withdrawal from Iraq by August? Really? I don’t believe it. I just don’t. Talk’s cheap, Mr. President, and you’ve promised a lot. I’m judging you by your accomplishments instead.

7:13: This year, he says, for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. “This year.” Again—I’m gonna believe it when I see it.

7:16: “No wonder there’s so much disappointment.” Ya think? Pass the frickin’ health care bill. Close Gitmo. End Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Until you do the things you promised to do, Mr. President, I am no longer impressed by speeches.

7:20 Blah blah god bless america blah blah blah.

Jan 27 2010


I’ve been feeling the wee tadpole (actually a Wee Bell Pepper, according to my pregnancy guides) move about for a few weeks now, but today she (we still don’t know, but I’m going to optimistically say “she”) must be swimming closer to the surface: when I’m sitting down, I can feel her kicking where at the part where my protruding lower stomach leans against my lap. It actually feels less like a kick and more like a slow, prolonged dragging. I think I’ll call her Slithery Lizard for now.

Jan 27 2010

What’s for Dinner

This week in our box we got: a butternut squash (nooooo!), carrots, cilantro, collard greens, lettuce, chard, three leeks, and six kiwis. I also have a cabbage, a big leek, three butternut squashes, and some potatoes left over from last week. I had trouble using everything up last week, partly because the elevator in our apartment is broken, making grocery shopping is a huge pain—wrestling a toddler, a stroller, and a bag of groceries up five flights of stairs is an experience I try to avoid.

Yesterday Robin and I walked to the park, which was nice, and then, when he wanted to stay there forever, I had to haul a kicking and screaming toddler all the way home and up the stairs, which was not nice at all. I’m not doing that again, so today we’re staying in, and Robin gets to play the ClickStart. Naturally, today is the first sunny day in a week. Maybe I’ll break down and try taking him for a shorter walk.

I never got around to making the butternut squash soup last week, meaning that I am now the not-very-proud owner of four squashes, and tonight would probably be an excellent time to make a couple of them into soup. We can have a salad too with the lettuce and carrots. Tomorrow, if the elevator is fixed, I’ll go looking for corned beef to cook with the cabbage and potatoes.

Last time I was at the store I noticed they had some okra—it was from Nicaragua, I think, so not local in the least, but if it’s still there I’ll break down and buy it so that I can cook it with tomatoes and cilantro for a lunch.

Friday we can have that polenta with chard recipe that I love, using a couple of the leeks; Saturday is cook’s night off; and Sunday I’ll plan to make pork chops smothered in collard greens and spicy gravy (I can work in the other leeks here too). And then I’m pretty sure we’ll have enough corned beef left over for Monday and Tuesday.

Jan 21 2010

Change of Plans

I snapped this picture of Robin at the rainy park. Note that he’s holding Boo in one hand and a train in the other; this is very common. Sometimes he tries to bring even more toys with him when we go out, which results in some fairly hilarious juggling as he clutches all of his treasures to his chest.

Unfortunately, a moment after I took this shot, Robin climbed back into his stroller—his signal for I’m done here, Mom. It was windy and wet and his teeth were chattering, even though he was wearing a couple of warm layers under his rain slicker.

So we went home. We didn’t even go to the grocery store, meaning that I am not cooking tacos tonight. Instead I made an order for Indian delivery—mmm, warm spicy filling curries and naan. Perfect for a cold and wet evening.

Oh, here are the Very Orange Oranges. They are even more orange in real life.

Jan 21 2010

What’s for Dinner

I’m strangely uninspired by this week’s vegetables, even though we got a bag of the most beautiful little dark-red fingerling potatoes, and I love potatoes. I also love cabbage, but we’ve seen a lot of it lately, so another two heads of cabbage in the box were not greeted with delight. The box also held two more butternut squashes, bringing my total to three since I was already burned out on squash and had one leftover from previous weeks. Three squashes. Bleh.

We also got carrots, collard greens, three leeks, a bag of bok choy (I’m sick of bok choy too!), a bunch of cilantro, and six oranges of astonishing color. (The color is orange, obvs, but it’s a remarkably deep and bright orange that I don’t trust the camera to capture.)

Last night I used half of the carrots and potatoes, and one of the cabbages, in a boiled vegetable dinner tossed with butter, salt, and crispy bacon bits. It was simple and good. Tonight I’m going to use the cilantro and make tacos. Tomorrow I’ll make some more butternut squash soup, with a salad on the side. The bok choy will go into a stir-fry over the weekend, and I might try and see if I can find corned beef at the grocery store to go with the rest of the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. Then on Monday we’ll have collard greens and baked sweet potatoes. I’ll still have a couple of squashes left over, but that’s okay.

It’s been rain-rain-raining lately (which is all to the good, as we’ve had a three year drought and are facing water rationing this summer). Robin and I stayed inside the last two days and he’s been climbing the walls. Today we’ll suit up in our rain gear and head to the park. I’ll try and get some pictures of him in his cute froggie boots.

Jan 14 2010

What’s for Dinner

This week in our box we got broccoli, cabbage, kale, a bunch of carrots, two leeks, two heads of bok choy, a big butternut squash, five kiwis, and lots of little satsumas: Robin was thrilled with these, as last week’s navel oranges seemed a bit under-ripe, and he didn’t like them. He scarfed down about ten of the satsumas as soon as I took them out of the box, though.

Tonight I want to make caldo verde using the kale and leeks, and tomorrow night we’ll have pork chops along with squash and apple bake.

Saturday I’m playing D&D with friends, so dinner will be leftovers or delivery, but Sunday I’ll make Greek cabbage pie.

I’m planning to use the bok choy sauteed with garlic and stirred into some ramen as a quick-and-easy lunch for Robin and me. I was thinking the broccoli and carrots could go into Sam’s Mr. Bento as a lunch for him, along with some dip and crackers or bread.

So for Monday I’ll be free to make anything I feel like—I’ll try to stop by the fish counter and see what’s fresh. And then Tuesday we’ll eat up any leftovers from the week.

Jan 12 2010

Random Link

This article is fascinating.

In completely unrelated news, Robin still loves his ClickStart, and I think the little games are actually helping him learn his alphabet: lately he likes to stop and point out letters he sees on the street, like signs in shop windows and stuff: he’ll wait for us to name the letter, and then point to another one, until we have identified all the letters on the sign. It makes walks a lot longer, but it’s an encouraging thing to see.

I’ve also concluded that playing on the ClickStart doesn’t have a negative effect on Robin’s behavior, so long as he also gets to spend at least an hour running around at the park. I really like the ClickStart system: it feels like the closest we can get right now to the computer out of The Diamond Age.

Jan 10 2010

Our Sunday: A Photo Essay

Today we took Robin to see the Golden Gate Express Garden Railway exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers. He loooooved it. He stared at the train, entranced, for about twenty minutes.

Since there’s lots of photos, I’m putting the rest after a jump. Click here to see everything.

Jan 8 2010


I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday—actually a midwife appointment, as this time around I’m planning to deliver at UCSF, taking advantage of their midwifery program (although of course doctors will also be around if it turns out that I need another C-section).

Anyway, it was a quick visit, in-and-out, but we did get to hear the baby’s heartbeat on doppler, so that was very cool. Whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh! Heartbeat sounds fine, my blood pressure and blood test results are all fine, everything’s fine. My next appointment is Feb. 11, when we’ll get to peek at the kid on the ultrasound. So that’ll be exciting!